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Women’s Prison Project: Tell Untold Stories

The Women’s Prison Project is a collaboration between Tulane Law School’s Criminal Justice and Domestic Violence Clinics. 

Domestic violence survivors interact with the criminal legal system not only as victims, but also as defendants. In fact, a majority of women in U.S. prisons attribute their incarceration to a history or context of abuse. The United States Department of Justice estimates that sixty-percent of incarcerated women are abuse survivors, and over a third were abused by an intimate partner. 

Historically, the legal system and the lawyers who work within it have failed to meaningfully address the role of intimate partner violence in assessing criminal culpability.  Through this project, Clinic students explore connections between incarceration and domestic violence and advocate for greater responsiveness to this problem throughout the criminal legal system.  The Project’s work includes:

  • Individual representation from pre-trial to post-conviction, parole, and clemency proceedings
  • Training and education for criminal system professionals and the women tasked with assisting other incarcerated women with legal claims
  • Consultation to defense attorneys representing survivors charged with or convicted of crimes relating to their abuse
  • Policy work to improve legal protections for victims who are defendants in the criminal legal system
  • Production of training materials and practice manuals for prosecutors and defense attorneys

“It changes a young lawyer. Suddenly you reevaluate your priorities and realize the power behind that degree and that license; and you have to help other people, not just use it for self-gain.” Courtney Crowell (L'19)